“It’s about connecting with women and working to bring God’s calling of femininity back to the culture,” said Rachelle, a local woman who came to the conference. “We’re not celebrating authentic femininity in the culture anymore.”
“It’s wonderful to be here with these women who want to be authentically feminine,” she said.
The Return to Tradition conference was presented by lay non-profit Restore Tradition and hosted by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, FSSP, in Littleton.
People loved the event last year, organizer Jane Brennan said. The Remnant publisher Michael Matt gave the keynote address in 2022. This year in-person attendance saw notable growth, and many more were able to take part via a live stream option as well, augmenting the conference’s impact.
Diane Montagna at the Return to Tradition Women's Conference
(Photo courtesy Lisa Bourne)
Speakers included journalist Diane Montagna, Jewish convert, author, and podcaster Roy Schoeman, Muslim convert and author Derya Little, writer and artist Anna Kalinowska, and Dana Stur, a refugee from Communist Czechoslovakia and mother of 10 who, along with her husband operates a Catholic non-profit offering spiritual formation.
Stur had praise for the traditional women’s conference.
“The Restore Tradition conference is a very well-organized event with attention to every detail to draw women in through goodness, holiness, and beauty,” she said.
Dana Stur address the Women's Conference (Photo courtesy Lisa Bourne)
“This kind of conference is much needed in today's society where there is much confusion about just about everything,” said Stur, “and unfortunately even chaos in our beloved Church is not helping nowadays woman find her place at home and the Church.”
“My goal of a takeaway from my talk was that women will be encouraged to trust God and follow Him wherever He leads them and boost their hope in times of struggle,” she said.
“The organizers are doing a fantastic job, I wouldn't change anything,” Stur added. “Just keep going. We need guidance and experiences of other holiness seeking people around us to encourage and strengthen each other in faith and in life in general.”
Roy Schoeman's address (Photo courtesy Lisa Bourne)
Father Daniel Nolan, FSSP, parochial vicar for Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was MC for the conference. He also gave a talk titled, Adam & Eve: The First Pathological Marriage. Fr. Nolan remarked on the struggle for Catholic women to live authentically today.
“It's hard to be a faithful Catholic these days, and everyone is wondering how they can make a difference,” he said. “For many women, they want to know what more they can do than prayer. It seemed to me that the speakers at the conference sent the message that prayer makes a big difference indeed, and that simply fulfilling one's daily state in life is very important.”
“I hope that the attendees take away the importance of daily prayer, and the difference they can make in the people's lives around them just by living out their vocation well,” said Father Nolan.
The event included time for fellowship, a procession with Our Lady, and a fashion show highlighting how modesty and beauty in dress can be achieved on a budget.
Father Nolan also participated in a panel on striving for beauty in dress as a child of God.
Fr. Nolan emcees the conference (Photo courtesy Lisa Bourne)
“Modesty in dress, speech, and manner is important for everyone,” he said, “but especially mothers who have a tremendous impact on their children.”
The feedback for the women’s conference was overwhelmingly enthusiastic again this year, Brennan said.
“It’s going to be hard to top it,” she said.
Well over 200 women from came from at least five states to attend, including women from both traditional and Novus Ordo parishes. At least one out-of-state parish had its priests taking part along with the women, making it a mini retreat. More than two dozen vendors from multiple states were on hand with Catholic wares as well.
Stella came from Oklahoma to exhibit as a vendor, traveling extensively for her apostolate Virgo Potens Rosaries. She echoed the thought of being at home with the women gathered for the Return to Tradition conference.
“I just think that Jane has done a terrific job organizing this,” Stella said. “Everyone has been so friendly, that I feel like I’m home.”
Regina, 29, from Arvada, Colo., had come to the first conference. She had previously attended the Novus Ordo, and then her mother began attending Our Lady of Mount Carmel and invited her to the conference.
“I wanted to hear all the good speakers,” she said.
Regina said she was kind of drifting in her faith last year when she came to the event, and then experienced the reverence and clear focus on Christ in the Traditional Mass – “truly witnessing the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”
Betty came for the event from nearby Highlands Ranch, Colo. She attends a local parish there and had been invited by someone from Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Betty threw herself further into her Catholic faith after she lost her husband of 56 years in 2016. She will be 82 in October, and has had challenges in recent months, including a heart attack in mid-July and breaking her pelvis last November.
“I’ve had some issues, but God’s been good to me,” she said.
Q & A (Photo courtesy Lisa Bourne)
Betty sold some personal items to purchase her registration for the women’s conference.
“I’m glad to be here,” she said. “I’m excited about it. I’m hoping that God will guide me in a direction to what He wants me to take.”
Laurie is a parishioner at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and friends with organizer Jane Brennan. She looked forward to the event reinforcing a return to tradition, stating, “It’s like a shot in the arm.”
Mary enjoyed the conference, having come to hear the speakers.
The more Catholics do such things as the conference, gathering to learn and foster the faith, she said, the more they will take hold.
“It’s important that we do these things,” said Mary.
“For me it’s always interesting to listen to new information and broaden my mind and my Catholic faith,” said Maria Theresa, Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioner and member of the Altar and Rosary Society, and who also helped to organize the event.
It’s always important to make opportunities to learn and grow in the faith available and for the laity to partake in them, she said, as they do not come along every day.
(Photo courtesy Lisa Bourne)
“It can be hard to get this type of information,” Maria Theresa added.
Kathleen and Connie came from Greeley to attend the traditional women’s conference.
Kathleen’s daughter is an Our Lady of Mount Carmer parishioner and came to the first conference last year.
“She said, “Oh Mom, you have to come,” Kathleen recalled.
“We came to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and grace in the Lord,” said Kathleen.
“It’s really good,” she said of the event. “There was something for everyone.”
“I’m always searching to grow in my faith,” Connie said. “I think that God is calling me to do these things (the conference) so that I can figure it out.”
“There’s always something I can take home with me,” she continued, “fill my heart with that love and joy so I can share that with others.”
“It’s been very good,” Connie added. “It’s stretched me to think about things.”
Both ladies from Greeley said it was good to see so many women present.
Regarding tradition and the conference, they referenced John 1: 43-46, where Christ beckons Philip to follow Him, and Philip in turn finds Nathanael, telling Nathanael they had found Jesus of Nazareth. After Nathanael questions whether anything good can come from Nazareth, Philip responds to him: “Come and see.”
Sally was a volunteer for the event, and concurred, pleased to see Catholic women coming in large numbers to embrace the faith.
(Photo courtesy Lisa Bourne)
“I think it highlights the full tradition and beauty of the Catholic faith as historically practiced,” she said. “It’s just so good to see so many women and to know this will be passed on.”
Xinia traveled all the way from Mountainview, Calif., to take part in the conference. Asked what brought her, she said, “For me, to improve myself as a woman.”
She found a new community for herself at the conference, and she was happy to learn new things about dressing for beauty.
“I love being a woman,” said Xinia. “I want to be a good example and role model for my daughters.”
Brennan said Catholic women see all the chaos, confusion, and darkness in the world, and tradition is the remedy.
“We’re just regular women in the pews,” she said. “We’re wives, mothers, grandmothers, and we see the destruction. We see it happening in our own families. And we think this is the answer.”
The Return to Tradition Women’s Conference organizers are discussing putting together a ‘how-to’ kit for other groups that may consider presenting a similar event. The 2024 conference is scheduled for August 23-24, and a keynote speaker has been secured. More information is available HERE.
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